As the popularity of Cajun Deep Fried Turkey has continued to grow, a whole industry has sprung up to support it. The problem is that most people face a big problem trying to do this on their stove. Namely, it makes a terrible mess and it's dangerous to do in an enclosed space. The answer is to take it outdoors. But be warned, this can be an expensive operation, but well worth it. For those of you who don't know what a deep fried turkey is like, let me give you the basics of the process.
How to Deep Fry a Turkey:
Step One: Get a turkey, a very large cooking pot, and some cooking oil. Vegetable oil can be used, but it's better to use peanut oil. Peanut oil is more expensive and several gallons are going to be needed, but the flavor is superior.
Step Two: Prepare the turkey. It needs to be defrosted and washed. Make sure there are no pop up tender timer devices or anything left inside. And, most importantly it must be completely dry. I mean really, really dry. You know what happens when you put water in boiling oil, don't you. You will also need to truss the turkey, meaning you need to secure the legs, neck flap, wings and tail to the body of the turkey.
Step Three: To determine the perfect amount of oil you are going to be using, place the turkey in the pot and add water until the turkey is completely covered plus two inches. With the turkey and the water there should still be several inches of room between the oil and the top of the pot. If it's a close call, then you need either a bigger pot or a smaller turkey. Remove the turkey and measure the water. This is the amount of oil that will be needed.
Step Four: Dry and season the turkey. Various recipes will call for seasoning rubs or injection mixtures. You'll find out more on this in the recipes listed below.
Step Five Make sure that your frying pot is completely dry. Water left behind can cause some serious problems once the oil is added and starts heating up.
Step Six: Add the oil to the pot and bring it to a temperature of about 375 degrees. You should really get a good thermometer so you can get the temperatures right.
Step Seven: This is where it gets tricky. The turkey needs to be room temperature and dry. Turn off the burner when you put the turkey in. You are going to lower the turkey into the pot of very hot oil. The oil is going to splatter. You need some very good cooking gloves and a way to put the turkey in the oil while you are a safe distance. This is the reason why it's really not that good of an idea to do it on your stove top. There are now devices to help you like Deep Fried Turkey Lifter for $39.95 that give you a good hold on the turkey. Now I have heard of people using a wire basket on the turkey and a wooden board to do this. A bit of inventing and I'm sure you'll find a way. Anyway, slowly lower the turkey into the oil.
A good method here is dunking. When you lower the turkey into the oil it will boil up. This is why you want the burner off when you do it. People have been burned by hot oil hitting the burner. You might not need to do more than a single dunk but you should be prepared to raise the bird out of the oil it it starts boiling up. You can greatly reduce the mess and risk of personal injury by lifting the bird up as the oil boils around it. A couple of dunks and the turkey should be nicely settled in.
Step Eight: Once the bird is safely resting in the oil, turn the burner back on to get to a temperature of 350 degrees F. At this point you can go take a breather. But don't wander too far because that turkey will be done soon. A deep fried turkey cooks at a rate of about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes per pound. A ten pound turkey should take 30-35 minutes. An instant read thermometer can help you test for doneness, but of course you will need to lift the turkey out to test it.
Step Nine: Remove the turkey from the oil when it's done. Do this slowly and after you have turned off the burner. Let the turkey drain a little bit and you're set to go.
Step Ten: Carve and enjoy. If you have never had a turkey cooked this way then you have not finished your life requirements. Do this and you may never put a turkey in the oven again. Despite what you might think this turkey is not oily or greasy. It's crisp, juicy and delicious.
Of course, I know that if you put your mind to it you can come up with a good cooker arrangement. But there are a couple of things this cooker needs: a good stock pot, a controllable heat source and a way to safely get the turkey in the oil and out again.
The last thing to look after is the oil. Oil for your fryer can be used several times. For more information see my article on Turkey Fryer Oil.